Windows Into the SoulSurveillance and Society in an Age of High Technology

Windows Into the SoulSurveillance and Society in an Age of High Technology

Gary T. Marx

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226285887

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Queen Elizabeth (1503-1633) did not want “to make windows into men’s hearts and secret thoughts.” Yet as ruler she needed information about her subjects. Today’s surveillance society brings the same paradox. This book illustrates how and why surveillance is neither good nor bad, but context and comportment make it so. Explanation and evaluation require a common language and a map for the identification and measurement of surveillance's fundamental properties and contexts. The empirical richness of watching and being watched is disentangled and parsed into basic categories and dimensions. Terms such as surveillance, privacy, secrecy, confidentiality, anonymity, and personal borders are illustrated as well as the basic structures, processes, goals and cultures of surveillance. The book provides a way of conceptualizing and analyzing the new surveillance and draws on Marx’ several decades of empirical and theoretical studies on topics such as covert policing, computer matching and profiling, work monitoring, drug testing, location monitoring, Caller-ID, communication manners and surveillance in art and music. Normative chapters on the ethics of surveillance and techno-fallacies of the information age develop the implications for public policy. Through satirical fiction four distinct contexts of surveillance are illustrated: coercion (government and security), contracts (work), care (children) and that of unprotected “publicly” available data. The ironies, paradoxes, trade-offs and value conflicts which limit the best laid plans and which make the topic so interesting and challenging are identified.